Shefali Tsabary wrote ‘Our children show us our way back to our own essence, they become our greatest awakeners.’ [The Conscious Parent]
A moment of truth
On Dec 8th 2021, I became a Mother. That’s 323 days of taking care of Ava. It hasn’t all been easy. There have been sleepless nights, moments of self-doubt, social isolation, monotonous routine and anxiety producing thoughts. Seemingly, whether I was prepared it or not, was always a part of the package.
When I brought Ava home from the hospital and set her down in front of me, I thought to myself, ‘this will be the greatest responsibility of my life.’ I didn’t know how to do it, and I didn’t know what was ahead, but I had to trust that I would figure it out – that we (Jack & I) would figure it out.
Confidence is something that is reachable with practice, but I didn’t have a lot of it in the first few months of Ava’s life. I often wondered if I was doing it right, if Ava was developing ‘normally’ if I was being good enough, safe enough, grateful enough, present enough – just enough in general.
Eventually, I realised that being good enough was simpler than I was making it out to be. Was I changing her, feeding her, cuddling her, keeper her warm and rocking her? Yes. Was I responding to her cues and cries as best I could? Yes. Was I showing her love? Yes. So that was enough, I was enough and I still am enough – period. If I get overwhelmed in the never-ending journey of parenting, I focus on that mantra, which helps me move on.
Respect for maternal instincts
I can’t speak for every Mother, but I found the maternal instinct to protect our young, extraordinary. I was recovering from childbirth, in desperate need of rest and self-care, yet Ava always came first. Whatever she needed, no matter how tired or how sore I was, I mustered up the energy and strength required to take care of her. I didn’t complain about it and I didn’t gloat about it, I just did it, because that’s what you do. This didn’t feel like a choice, but rather an innate response that came naturally. For the first time in my life, I understood what it felt like to care for something so much, that you would protect it at all cost.
The emotional roller coaster
Having a baby of my own felt like it awakened something inside me. Motherhood is so raw and so vulnerable, like a beautiful painting that’s messy and perfect at the same time. Like a masterpiece that you have to study for a long period before fully understanding it. Even when you do understand it, your perception continually changes, as you and your baby change with it.
For example, you could be crying tears of frustration one minute and tears of joy the next. You could be celebrating you baby’s small wins like a long nap, a good feed, a healthy pooh, a first step or a first word. Yet, the next day you might be missing parts of your old life, like going to work, going to parties, to dinners, to a fitness class or travelling with ease. It’s all a part of the ride.
Give yourself a break
I have found that there’s not a lot of black & white in being a good Mother. There’s no one size fits all. Each baby is different, each Mother is different and each family is different. What works for me, may not also work for you, and vise versa. So I try to spend a lot of my time in the grey space. Grey gives you some flexibility to change your mind, grey lets you reject advice and follow your own intuition. Grey allows you to forgive yourself if you make a mistake and best of all, grey gives you permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, without judgment and criticism.
Ava was born in London. In her short life, she has already travelled to Canada, US, Netherlands, France and Spain. During the last 10 years, Jack and I have lived in a few different cities together including Toronto, Sydney and London. We don’t shy away from trying out new places, mostly because we get a thrill out of it. But when you add a baby to mix, your priorities shift. The idea of living close to family is looking more and more appealing. Living in Ontario for the summer gave us an idea of what life would look like for us there. Dare I say, we liked what we saw and feel comfort in knowing that it’s an option for us down the road… But, first things first!
Jack was offered a good opportunity through work that will take our wee family over to Munich, Germany. We made a long list of pros & cons and the decision was made with much consideration. Do we know how to speak German? No. Do we know anyone living over there? No. But from all reports the city is full of English speaking expats, with a good work life balance, and has a lot of green space. Not to mention, Munich is very close to the Apls, along with some amazing countries like Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria and Croatia.
Jack and I are aware that starting over will have its challenges. After 5 years of being in London, it will undoubtedly be sad to go. It’s not just the city that we have grown to love, but our friends as well, which is the hardest part.
However, grinding in London with a baby and no family support is not sustainable for us. We need a better work life balance for our family. Additionally, some clean air, starry nights and green open spaces will be a welcome change after living in two of London’s busiest and grungiest burbs (Camden & Shoreditch).
So, our parenting journey continues in Germany. As of January 2022, we start another adventure – just the three of us.
Thanks for reading!